Anibal Sanchez struck out 12 Boston batters and combined with three Detroit pitchers to take a no-hitter through the eighth inning as the Tigers beat the Red Sox 1-0 in the opener of Major League Baseball’s American League Championship Series.
In the National League’s playoff game yesterday, St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitcher Michael Wacha allowed five hits and struck out eight to lead the team to a 1-0 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers and a two games-to-none advantage in the best-of-seven series.
The Tigers meet the Red Sox in Game 2 of the AL series today at Fenway Park in Boston, while the National League series moves to Los Angeles for Game 3.
Sanchez (1-0) was relieved after striking out 12 and walking six in six innings. He managed to escape a bases-loaded threat by striking out Stephen Drew after walking Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli in the sixth inning. With two outs, Stephen Drew struck out swinging.
“Today I tried to put the ball in the corners,” Sanchez said in a televised interview. “That’s why I threw so many walks.”
Sanchez, Al Alburquerque and Jose Veras struck out a total of 16 Boston players. The trio plus Drew Smyly carried the no-hitter into the ninth inning.
Nava broke up the no-hitter in the ninth inning on a pitch by Joaquin Benoit who got the save.
“Right now we have to continue to play hard,” Sanchez said.
“The pitchers were really good tonight -- unbelievable tonight with the pitchers,” Peralta said.
At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Wacha struck out Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe with one out after loading the bases in the sixth inning. The 22-year-old pitcher allowed five hits and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.
“I was lucky enough to get some strikeouts to hold the lead,” Wacha said in a televised interview.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw reached first on a single to left in the sixth inning and then went to second on Carl Crawford’s infield single. Both runners advanced on a throwing error by second baseman Matt Carpenter. After Mark Ellis popped out to second, Wacha intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases before striking out Puig and Uribe to end the inning.
“It was pretty intense in there,” Wacha said. “Our bullpen is clutch. I knew I was in good hands.”
David Freese scored on Jon Jay’s sacrifice fly in the fifth inning for the Cardinals.
Kershaw (0-1) went six innings, surrendering one run on two hits and striking out five.
“You have to give those guys credit,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Their guy threw the ball good. We had a couple of chances -- bases loaded -- and couldn’t capitalize on them.”
The Cardinals were coming off a 13-inning 3-2 victory that ended half past midnight in St. Louis.
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